DN - Defence Notes

SPEEA Technical and Professional Employees Approve Four-Year Contracts With Boeing

2nd December 2008 - 08:41 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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With one of the largest ballot returns in union history, engineers and technical workers approved new four-year contracts with The Boeing Company. The agreements took effect at midnight and run to Oct. 6, 2012.

At stake were contracts covering nearly 20,400 engineers and technical workers represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001. Votes were counted Monday (Dec. 1), at union headquarters in Seattle.

The final tally in the mail-in vote showed 69 percent of the voting employees in the SPEEA Technical Unit approved their contract offer with 3,429 voting to accept and 1,554 voting to reject. In the separate Professional Unit, 79 percent approved the offers with 7,184 voting to accept the offer and 1,951 voting to reject. Union negotiation teams recommended members approve the offers. Nearly 74 percent of the eligible members voted on the contracts. In 2005, just 65 percent of the members voted. Complete voting numbers are posted to the SPEEA website at www.speea.org.

"Passage of these contracts represents a first step in restoring the relationship between Boeing management and its engineering and technical workforce," said SPEEA Executive Director and Chief Spokesperson Ray Goforth. "We have a lot of work to breathe life into the text of these agreements and we still need to finish negotiations in Wichita."

The new contracts provide employees wage increases, benefit improvements, a voice in future decisions on outsourcing and a process to take a voluntary layoff with benefits. The union spent more than eight months negotiating the offers with Boeing. Final main table negotiations started Oct. 29.

While recommended, passage was not guaranteed. During more than 100 workplace meetings, union negotiators heard members talk about the continued lack of respect from management and concerns about a lack of confidence in Boeing corporate leaders.

"These were the toughest negotiations I've been involved with," said Professional Negotiation Team chair and three-time negotiator Dave Patzwald.

Union leaders said members voiced concerns about management misdirection and lack of respect for employees for months. The comments grew out of frustration over corporate decisions that are causing continued delays to the 787 and 747-8, fastener problems on multiple aircraft and a continued push to hire more contract labor while pushing existing employees to work more and more overtime.

SPEEA and Boeing started work negotiating the new agreements in April. Negotiation teams reached tentative agreement on the two contract offers Nov. 14. SPEEA members cast votes by mail. Union leaders recommended members approve the contract offers.

The agreements provide salary increase pools of 5 percent in each year of the contract. Engineers in the Professional unit are guaranteed an increase of at least 2 percent each year and Technical workers are guaranteed increases of at least 2.5 percent during each year of the contract. In addition to the wage increases, improvements were gained to medical coverage, retirement and the company agreed to maintain the defined benefit pension for new employees. SPEEA stopped Boeing from cutting engineers in Utah from the Professional contract.

Negotiations for 700 engineers at Boeing Wichita resume on Tuesday, Dec. 2. The Wichita contract was extended to allow for negotiations beyond the original Dec. 5 expiration.

A local of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), SPEEA represents more than 24,500 aerospace professionals at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., Triumph Composite Systems, Inc., in Spokane, Wash., and at BAE Systems, Inc., in Irving, Texas.

 

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